Round-up: Tracks: Grimes, BANKS and those Frank Ocean instrumentals

We deliver verdicts on the week’s best and biggest tracks.

Just another quiet week in the world of music. Carpentry, on the other hand - carpentry’s had a week to remember.

The world’s most famous amateur carpenter, Frank Ocean, stole all the headlines this week. And as a tribute, below we attempt to dig into those ambient instrumentals he’s been sharing. If only because he still hasn’t released any actual songs, for fuck’s sake.

99% of the week has been about Frank and his chopping. But look! Other musicians exist! And all of the below decided to share songs this week, completely ignoring the fact that every Internet user was glued to a livestream of a famous man making a staircase or whatever the hell it is.

Catch up with the week’s best and biggest new tracks below.

Massive Attack and Ghostpoet - Come Near Me

It’s hard to imagine two atmospheres better paired than those conjured by Ghostpoet and Massive Attack. Both paint effortless pictures in various gloomy shades, reflecting on the darker side of life with a whip-crack tautness. ’Come Near Me’ is every bit as perfect in practise as it is on paper - three masters of tension in a heartstring tug of war.

With a sound not dissimilar to a dodgy phone line buzzing away in the background, Ghostpoet’s latest account of communication breakdown takes on a third dimension. “Don’t stand by the door / come near me,” he half-demands over crackling percussion, sounding more world-weary than ever. It’s an all-too-common tale of woe, given a menacing new slant - a cloudy-headed, industrial take on emotional exhaustion, it captures all elements of its meticulous construction at their peak. (Tom Connick)

Warpaint - New Song

A bit like the jagged-looking triangle which fronts ’Exquisite Corpse’ - their 2008 debut EP - Warpaint would collapse without the instinctive, counter-balancing interaction between all its individual members. Remove just one ingredient, and nothing stands up. It’s the rare kind of precarious assembly that only the very best bands possess; and together Stella Mozgawa, Theresa Wayman, Emily Kokal and Jenny Lee Lindberg form a highly formidable, chai tea loving gang. Their sonic results might be vastly different each time, but the core chemistry fuelling this band is key, and unshakeable.

After several years doing their own respective things in a whole host of other side-projects, the wryly named ’New Song’ (the first hint of things to come on Warpaint’s third album ‘Heads Up’) sounds leagues removed from anything Warpaint have done previously. And after the bold leap between their muddied and submerged debut album ‘The Fool,’ to their second album’s soaring, saturated dreamscape - by way of the clattering industrial underworld of ‘Disco/Very,’ and ‘Love Is To Die’s cyclic, misted incantations - that thirst for reinvention should come as no surprise.

Atop a wibbling, cheery synth-line that pogoes along with all the tenacity of Jigglypuff bouncing his way towards the Adventure Time convention, playfulness takes centre stage on ‘New Song’; from the slightly silly song title, to playful, nonsensical lyrics like ”you’ve got the moves, bang bang, baby.” Always creatively refreshed, never predictable, and always utilising their band’s potent strain of magic in ever different ways, it’s a bloody relief to have Warpaint back again. (El Hunt)

Grimes - Medieval Warfare

Calling all Hollywood execs: give Grimes a movie and an unlimited budget. Claire Boucher has always gone beyond music, matching explosive pop with nightmarish imagery, self-directed videos, smart twists on cartoons and video games. On the basis of ‘Medieval Warfare’, it’s due time she was given the platform to unleash the monster in her brain. This is an all-guns-blazing glimpse into a deadly, anarchic parallel universe, and it’s one entirely of Grimes’ own making.

BANKS - Gemini Feed

Even when the hype and intrigue was unstoppable, BANKS always used to come across as a not-that-interesting songwriter being presented under a cool veneer. A bit like trying to market tea bags as the ‘cool new thing’. That’s largely because she didn’t have a great deal to say about those early songs. There was a lot of chat about heartbreak, but it was all fairly abstract, the same applying to ‘Goddess’’ material. Thankfully, there’s a transparency to ‘Gemini Feed’. Like the similarly impressive ‘Fuck With Myself’, BANKS’ true identity - that of a no-prisoners, goth-pop superstar - is coming to the fore. This also happens to pack a gigantic, shuffling, arms-in-the-air chorus to match its graveyard gloominess. Top marks all round. (Jamie Milton)

Protomartyr - Born to be Wine

Spare a thought for Protomartyr’s Joe Casey, if you can. As frontman of the Detroit grumblers, he’s built a foundation on boozy brawn. Each night, he steps on stage; each night, he cracks open a tinny or twelve. It’s gotta be hell to be his liver.

‘Born To Be Wine’, then, is perhaps an admission of the impact that alcohol-fuelled lifestyle’s taking on not only his body, but his brain to boot. The band’s latest single - released as part of this year’s Adult Swim series - straddles that same razor-wire sonic tightrope as last year’s ‘The Agent Intellect’ LP, but there’s a sunken ship element to Casey’s usually fearsome delivery.

“The lyrical sentiment takes in louche, elder rockers confined to man caves,” Casey explains in a statement, and it’s that sentiment that holds up the increasingly crumbling basement ’Born To Be Wine’ inhabits. ”I believe I cannot fly,” he shrugs as the track reaches its cacophonous, reoccurring peak - “I was born to be wine.” As sludgy, near-industrial guitars drag him out of his stupor, only to be shrugged off and wrestled with time and time again, it’s as begrudging a racket as you’re likely to hear all year. (Tom Connick)

Sounds from Frank Ocean’s livestream

Starved of an actual song, it’s time to review the abstract, bleepy bloopy instrumentals from Frank Ocean’s livestream.

The opening section is a highlight, Clangers-like warbling juxtaposed with the harsh sound of wood being sawn into big neat blocks. A repetitive loop, like something out of an Xbox game opening credits, gives way to an alien, creaking sound. Then in steps the strings. Lovely, lovely strings. Strings that would sound so much better if complemented by Frank Ocean’s singing voice.

Everything gets a bit more ominous eight minutes in, a mix between ‘Pet Sounds’ and a real life retelling of the Bambi tragedy. After that, the wood-chopping begins to take centre stage. Then we’re left with a dreamy, Chromatics-style closing section, almost as if Frank’s been listening to the Stranger Things soundtrack for some last minute inspiration.

And there we have it. Thirty minutes of sawing, chopping, hole-drilling and very promising instrumentals. But where’s the drop? (Please send help)

Get your copy of the latest issue

More like this